High Wycombe from the West
High Wycombe from the West

Trees are often raised with me by local people in Wycombe. 

The Conservative Party 2019 manifesto committed us to tree planting:

We will invest in nature, helping us to reach our Net Zero target with a £640 million new Nature for Climate fund. Building on our support for creating a Great Northumberland Forest, we will reach an additional 75,000 acres of trees a year by the end of the next Parliament, as well as restoring our peatland.

The Conservatives website went further, stating the Nature for Climate Fund would plant 30,000 hectares every year, “space for at least 30 million more trees”.

In March 2020, the Government listed the schemes currently in operation in response to a Parliamentary Question:

To drive an unprecedented step-change in planting and reach net zero, the Government is investing in tree planting in England through the recently announced £640 million Nature for Climate Fund. This supports our commitment to increase planting across the UK to 30,000 hectares of trees per year by 2025.

The Government supports woodland creation through grants and incentives. These include the recently launched Woodland Carbon Guarantee, in addition to the existing Countryside Stewardship, Woodland Carbon Fund, Woodland Creation Planning Grant and the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. These grants are available to local authorities, land managers and community-led organisations across England, including those in the West Midlands.

While we do not set specific targets for individual constituencies, we are working hard to increase the uptake of grant schemes across England, and strongly encourage eligible organisations to take advantage of this support.

The Government continues to consider ways to further incentivise land managers and owners to plant more trees. Later this spring we will be consulting on the English Tree Strategy, to gather information to help us design policy to best increase planting.

In addition to these specific schemes, the Government’s new farm support policy (the Environmental Land Management scheme) aims to incentivise farmers to deliver public goods, including clean air and the mitigation of climate change. In response to a May 2020 Parliamentary Question, the Minister Victoria Prentis MP elaborated on this scheme and said that “tree planting can provide significant carbon storage benefits”.

The English Tree Strategy consultation was launched on 19 June 2020. The consultation closes in September 2020 and the Government states it will publish a strategy later in 2020. You can participate here.

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